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(See endnote 14) (Most of the discussion on injuries in the recreational environment will be found in Chapter 10, “Recreational Environment and Swimming Areas.”)

Exercise is essential to prevent a variety of chronic diseases and for healthy living. The consumption of excess quantities of calories and the lack of physical activity have become growing problems in our society today, leading to an increase in diabetes, heart disease, strokes, lung disease, obesity, etc. To counter this serious health concern about lifestyle, people have been urged to participate in a variety of physical activities. Yet because of poor understanding of the exercise process, overstressing systems of the body which are not prepared for the exertion involved, the inherent dangers resulting from various types of sports activities, and environmental problems, short-term and long-term injuries may occur. For example, 45% of playground-related injuries include fractures, internal injuries, concussions, dislocations, and amputations. Many of the nonfatal injuries are related to playground equipment, which is frequently in disrepair, used at schools, day care centers and public playgrounds. About 20% of all emergency department visits are due to sports and recreation injuries. (See endnote 24.)

Each year millions of teenagers are involved in high school sports which may result in i njuries. Although the teenage injuries occur at about the same rate as professional injuries, among young children the effects may be far greater because children are still growing. Children are more susceptible to muscle, tendon, and growth plate injuries because of the uneven growth occurring. Acute injuries may be due to a sudden trauma caused by players colliding or suddenly hitting the ground. Injuries may be due to overuse of various body parts. Concussions or mild traumatic brain injuries occur quite frequently, and repetitive ones may lead to long-term disability. High school football accounts for 47% of all sports concussions, followed by ice hockey and soccer. Growth plate injuries in children occur in the developing cartilage tissue near the ends of the long bones.

Best Practices for Sports and Recreational Facilities

  • • All activities should be age-appropriate.
  • • All children involved in high school or intra-mural sports activities should receive a physical examination by appropriate medical personnel prior to the activities.
  • • All individuals should receive proper conditioning, training, and equipment before participating in any type of sports activity.
  • • Upon receiving an injury, the individual should be immediately examined by a doctor and then appropriate diagnostic studies should be carried out to determine the extent and nature of the injury.
  • • Treatment for injuries should be thorough and completed before resumption of activities.
  • • After an injury, physician authorization should be required to grant the individual the opportunity to once again resume the activity.
  • • Do not overstress young people by having them participate in too many physical activities. (See endnote 25.)
  • • Use proper equipment to help prevent traumatic brain injuries.
  • • If an individual is suspected of having a concussion, he or she should be removed from the activity and immediately referred to professional medical personnel for diagnosis and management of the injury. Before returning to the activity, the individual has to be cleared by the medical team.
  • • See Chapter 10, “Recreational Environment and Swimming Areas” for drowning and other water-related problems.
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